Wallace Lyon was Provincial Administrator and Administrative Inspector in northern Iraq - an area known unofficially as 'Kurdistan' - between 1918 and 1945. His job was to administer what at the time was a fairly wild and remote province, while protecting the Kurds from a predatory and unstable Iraq and safeguarding British imperial interests in the area. The pushing would have been impossible but for an in-depth understanding of natural respect for the family, tribal and religious ties that defined the area's complex social structures. Nor would it have been possible without Lyon's personal courage and immediate empathy for the people of the region. Lyon's work was an exemplar of the qualities that the British Empire hoped to breed in its servants. As the Empire waned the Kurdish north - so vital in geopolitical manoeuvring provided Lyon with the perfect vantage point from which to watch its decline.
Kurds, Arabs and Britons